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Old 01-23-2014, 12:35 AM   #1
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Default Which is better, several small starters or a big one

I want to know what makes more cells,
making several small starters, or creating one large one.

I want to pitch about 1-1.5 liters for my next beer. say i make 750 ML starters and use 250 ML as my yeast source for the next starter. so in 3 days of creating starters, i have 1.5 liters of yeast starter ready to go


should i make a single 1.5 liter starter?

to me it seems like a single vial of yeast would have trouble propagating to the same number of cells in a 24 hour period, as it would in 3 days (3 successive starters) even if they had a larger original volume (breathing room) for the initial 24 hours

i mean, do yeast really worry about what concentration of cells there is in a given volume, or do they just propagate like crazy in the first 24 hours (or so) and then switch to anaerobic production.

If they dont care about volume then i know the answer:

for instance (and these numbers are not scientific)
If yeast can only reproduce a certain number of times in a given amount of time you can introduce 100b cells (a vial) into a starter (volume does not matter), say yeast can double their cell count in 24 hours. so now in 1 day you have 200B. and then you do it again and again and end up with mindboggling ammounts of cells

small batches sound like they are the way to go. BUT, if they do care about volume, then i am not sure. (ie, do they get more efficient at repoduction if they have more breathing room)

100B cells into 1L might make 200B cells in 24 hours, but might make 400B in a 2L starter just because the yeast are more comfortable.

anyone know an answer?

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Old 01-23-2014, 04:06 AM   #2
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1 starter.

less stress on yeast
Less chance of infection
Less hassle

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Old 01-23-2014, 04:56 AM   #3
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Yeastcalc will give you the growth factor of your starter. I had asked the same question.
So far the answer has been that it is not known if large growth factors have any adverse effect on yeast cell health.
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Old 01-23-2014, 05:01 AM   #4
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If you don't need to do stepped starters, why would you want to make things more complicated?

I have to do step starters when I use my frozen yeast bank. I am starting from just 5 ml yeast.
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Old 01-23-2014, 09:30 AM   #5
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Yeast are typically 15um in diameter. That's 0.000015 meters or 0.0005 inches. The size of the container as almost no effect on growth. The only factor that significantly effects cell propagation is the amount of available extract. For typical fermentations 1 gram of extract is converted to 1 billion cells.

Less containers means less chances of introducing an infection.

Lots of more info on my blog and in my book.

The 2nd edition is now available: Brewing Engineering
Woodland Brewing Research Blog Applied Science for Better Beer.
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